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College 101: Trials of Travel Planning

My friends and I are planning to take a big vacation together this year, and we’re working on planning it out. But we’re having problems. For starters, nobody can agree on where to go. Then there’s the fact that nobody can agree on who should do the organizing or planning (and the fact that, in order to the keep the peace, I tend to step up and take on too much responsibility). Finally, there are a few very worry-prone people in our group--including myself--who fret, probably unnecessarily, about possible issues like lost luggage and forgotten IDs. Is there any way to make vacation planning less stressful?

The most stressful part of the typical vacation is--you guessed it--planning! While some of us excel at and enjoy planning, many of us find it stressful and difficult. And it’s only more difficult when the people in your vacationing group can’t agree on basic things!

The first thing you should do is get everyone together and settle, once and for all, what type of vacation you’re taking. There are countless places to head to on a trip, but knowing what you’re after--whether it’s an all-inclusive resort or a low-key camping trip--will be the first and most important way to narrow your options. Debate and reach a consensus, and then hold a vote on a few locations that suit the nature of your vacation.

From there, you can make things a bit easier by relying on apps and experts to book your travel. Travel agents are making a comeback for a reason, but you can also do things yourself while keeping stress relatively low if you book online and keep digital records of your important passwords, confirmation numbers, and other information. Make sure your friends help--if you have to, make a chart and have people sign up to handle certain tasks.

Don’t forget to plan activities, too, if you want any structure to your vacation. Look up your destination online and in guidebooks, recommend the writers behind this St. George Island guide. Ask others who have been there--in person or on message boards--and book the most important things first, leaving plenty of room in between for unstructured fun.

As for all the things that can go wrong, well, the best defense is to be prepared! Make a list of your fears on one side of a sheet of paper, then come up with plans on the other. Worried about lost bags? Why not invest in bright markers to help identify it, like flight crew bag tags, ribbons, or luggage straps? You could also keep some essentials and a change of clothes in your carry-on, in case the airline loses your luggage before you can. Make checklists for vital documents, bring backups of replaceable essentials, and keep everyone in the loop and on the record through email or another method. Taking steps like this should ease some of your fears.

Vacation planning can be tough, but your vacation will be rewarding and fun. Good luck, and enjoy!

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” -- Dagobert D. Runes

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